Mark was first elected Mayor in 2009 after serving two terms on the Chapel Hill Town Council. When not engaged in town business, the Mark is an attorney in the Chapel Hill offices of Tin Fulton Walker & Owen, a North Carolina firm specializing in civil rights advocacy. In 2012 he was named one of the Triangle’s Top 100 most influential business leaders by the Triangle Business Journal.
Mark has served as President of the North Carolina ACLU, on the Board of Equality NC, and as a Delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Today, he serves as Chair of the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization, Treasurer of the North Carolina Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, and on the steering committee of the Mayors Innovation Project (MIP). He is also an active member of Mayors for Peace and the US Conference of Mayors Transportation and Communications Committee and Tourism, Arts, Parks, and Entertainment Committee.
Mark Kleinschmidt is Chapel Hill’s first openly gay Mayor and when elected to the Council, was the fifth openly-gay North Carolinian to be elected in the state’s history. He is proud to be the first Mayor elected through the town’s former publicly-financed Voter Owned Elections (VOE) program.
Born at Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, Illinois, Mark lived in Hawaii and New Mexico before moving to Goldsboro, North Carolina at the age of 10. After graduating from Eastern Wayne High School in 1988, he came to Chapel Hill to study. Having moved around the country in a military family, Kleinschmidt considers his first experience with UNC and the surrounding community transformative, and as a result claims Chapel Hill as his hometown.
Throughout his career, the Mark has dedicated his life to public service. After graduating as a member of UNC’s first Teaching Fellows class in 1992, he served as a social studies teacher at West Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte. In 1997, after being named by his peers as “Teacher of the Year,” Mark returned to Carolina to pursue a Law degree. In 2000, Mark became a staff attorney at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation before taking the position of executive director of the Fair Trial Initiative (FTI) in 2006. You can read about one of his most notable cases in the book The Last Lawyer. After leaving FTI, he opened the Chapel Hill offices of Tin Fulton Walker & Owen.
Mayor Kleinschmidt spends his free time with friends and family. He lives with his partner, Matt DeBellis and their dog, Ellie. His father, Jim Kleinschmidt, is a retired U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sergeant and his mother, Marge Kleinschmidt, is a retired registered nurse. His twin sister, Michelle Kleinschmidt-Hoover also lives in Chapel Hill. Mark’s niece Asia Marie is a student at UNC Charlotte.